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Catherine () II
(17291796)
Tale about Tsarevich Khlor

Catherine () II(17291796)Tale about Tsarevich Khlor

Catherine the Great, czarina of Russia (17621796).

A German princess, the daughter of Christian Augustus, prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, she emerged from the obscurity of her relatively modest background in 1744 when Czarina Elizabeth of Russia chose her as the wife of the future Czar Peter III. Accepting the Orthodox faith, she changed her original name, Sophie, to Catherine. Her successful effort to become completely Russian made her popular with important political elements who opposed her eccentric husband. Neglected by the czarevich, Catherine read widely, especially Voltaire and Montesquieu, and informed herself of Russian conditions. In Jan., 1762, Peter succeeded to the throne, but he immediately alienated powerful groups with his program and personality. In June, 1762, a group of conspirators headed by Grigori Orlov, Catherines lover, proclaimed Catherine autocrat; shortly afterward Peter was murdered.

Catherine began her rule with great projects of reform. She drew up a document, based largely on the writings of Beccaria and Montesquieu, to serve as a guide for an enlightened code of laws. She summoned a legislative commission (with representatives of all classes except the serfs) to put this guide into law, but she disbanded the commission before it could complete the code. Some have questioned the sincerity of Catherines enlightened outlook, and there is no doubt that she became more conservative as a result of the peasant rising (177374) under Pugachev.

The nobilitys administrative power was strengthened when Catherine reorganized (1775) the provincial administration to increase the central governments control over rural areas. This reform established a system of provinces, subdivided into districts, that endured until 1917. In 1785, Catherine issued a charter that made the gentry of each district and province a legal body with the right to petition the throne, freed nobles from taxation and state service and made their status hereditary, and gave them absolute control over their lands and peasants. Another charter, issued to the towns, proved of little value to them. Catherine extended serfdom to parts of Ukraine and transferred large tracts of state land to favored nobles. The serfs remaining rights were strictly curtailed. She also encouraged colonization of Alaska and of areas gained by conquest. She increased Russian control over the Baltic provinces and Ukraine.

Catherine attempted to increase Russias power at the expense of its weaker neighbors, Poland and the Ottoman Empire. In 1764 she established a virtual protectorate over Poland by placing her former lover Stanislaus Poniatowski on the Polish throne as Stanislaus II. Catherine eventually secured the largest portion in successive partitions of Poland among Russia, Prussia, and Austria (see Poland, partitions of).

Catherines first war with the Ottoman Empire (176874; see Russo-Turkish Wars) ended with the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji, which made Russia the dominant power in the Middle East. Catherine and her advisers, particularly Potemkin, developed a program known as the Greek Project, which aimed at a partition of the Ottoman Empires European holdings among Russia, Austria, and other countries. However, her attempts to break up the Ottoman Empire met with limited success. In 1783 she annexed the Crimea, which had gained independence from the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji. Her triumphal tour of S Russia, accompanied by Potemkin, provoked the Ottomans to renew warfare (178792). The Treaty of Jassy (1792) confirmed the annexation of the Crimea and cemented Russias hold on the northern coast of the Black Sea.

Catherine also extended Russian influence in European affairs. In 1778 she acted as mediator between Prussia and Austria in the War of the Bavarian Succession, and in 1780 she organized a league to defend neutral shipping from attacks by Great Britain, which was then engaged in the war of the American Revolution.

Catherine increased the power and prestige of Russia by skillful diplomacy and by extending Russias western boundary into the heart of central Europe. An enthusiastic patron of literature, art, and education, Catherine wrote memoirs, comedies, and stories, and corresponded with the French Encyclopedists, including Voltaire, Diderot, and dAlembert (who were largely responsible for her glorious contemporary reputation). She encouraged some criticism and discussion of social and political problems until the French Revolution made her an outspoken conservative and turned her against all who dared criticize her regime. Although she had many lovers, only Orlov, Potemkin, and P. L. Zubov (17671822) were influential in government affairs. She was succeeded by her son Paul I.


Cuba, 1994, Carriage of Catherine II

Guinea, 1997, Chess of Catherine II

Guinea, 2010, Catherine II

Guinea, 2013, Catherine II

Guinea Bissau, 2012, Catherine II

Maldives, 2000, Catherine the Great

Russia, 1913, Catherine II

Russia, 1993, Banknoteswith Catherie II

Russia, 2002, Bust of Catarina II

Russia, 2002, Carriage of Catherine II (1770)

Russia, 2002, Carriage of Catherine II (1769)

Russia, 2002, Carriages of Catherine II

Russia, 2004, Catherine II in Lomonosov's Study

Russia, 2004, Giving arms

Russia, 2004, State reform

Russia, 2004, Border expansion

Russia, 2004, Catherine II

Russia, 2008, Banknote with Catharine II

Russia, 2011, Catherine II

San-Marino, 2003, Queen Catherine II

Sao Tome e Principe, 2003, Catherine II Monument

St. Vincent, 1989, Presenting Orloff Dimond to Cathetine the Great

Transnistria, 2007, Catherine II

USSR, 1991, Karamzin and Catherine II

Russia, 2004.04.27, Moskow. Catherine II

Russia, 2004.04.27, Sankt-Petersburg. Catherine II

San-Marino, 2003.03.11, San Marino. Catherine II

Russia, 2002, Carriages of Catherine II

Russia, 2004, Stamp with Catherine II

Russia, 2008, Mamontov, banknote with Catharine II

Russia, 2008, Schukin, banknote with Catharine II

Russia, 2008, Morozov, banknote with Catharine II

Russia, 2009, Monument to Catherine II in Krasnodar

Russia, 2009, Banknots with Catherine II

Russia, 2010, Monument Millenium of Russia

Russia, 2010, Banknots with Catherine II

Russia, 2009.03.18, Monument to Catherine II in Krasnodar

USSR, 1972.01.18, Palace of Catherine II in Kalinin

USSR, 1988.03.24, Palace of Catherine II in Kalinin

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